Forecaster: Florence storm surge not diminished

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Director Ken Graham says there is nothing "minor" about this hurricane. Chris Horne, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C., says the best chance for the heaviest rainfall will be Saturday night and Sunday. "It's important for people to know this is no ordinary storm and customers could be without power for a very long time - not days, but weeks".

Forecasters say wind speeds have dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 110 miles per hour (175 kph), reducing it to a Category 2 storm. "I'm going to get killed on the road, '" Bradley said.

A storm surge of nine to 12 feet (2.7-3.6 meters) was expected along the North Carolina coast, Goldstein said, and some areas could receive as much as one metre (40 inches) of rain.

"The time to leave is running out, there will come a time when it will be too late and the rescue teams will not be able to come because they will also have to take refuge", warned South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

Storm surge is why many of you have been placed under evacuation and we are asking citizens to please heed a warning.

"Data from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft along with satellite imagery and various intensity estimates indicate that Florence has weakened instead of strengthening". Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its centre, and tropical storm force winds up to 195 miles.

Steve Goldstein with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight, and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas for "another 36 hours".

Early Thursday the Category 2 was about 205 miles (325 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 250 miles (405 kilometers) east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. However, while the hurricane hasn't strengthened in terms of peak winds, the inner-core and outer wind fields have continued to expand, resulting in an increase the cyclone's total energy, which will create a significant storm surge event. Favorable wind patterns. Higher sea levels that exacerbate storm surge. Not with Florence. That's because the weather systems that usually push and pull a storm are disappearing as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the storm with his dog Canelo.

Five states and Washington, DC, have declared states of emergency: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland.

Hours before a mandatory evacuation took effect, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, resident Phoebe Tesh paused while loading her vehicle to have a glass of wine on the steps of the house where she and her husband rent an apartment.

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said. The storm was moving northwest at 12 miles per hour.

Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly.

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